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Dhoni Remains India's Best Wicket-keeper and Finisher in Shorter Formats: Prasad

Cricketnext Staff |August 1, 2019, 7:34 AM IST
Dhoni Remains India's Best Wicket-keeper and Finisher in Shorter Formats: Prasad

MSK Prasad, chief selector of the Indian team, has thrown his weight behind MS Dhoni insisting that the former Indian captain was a valuable asset both as a batsman and a wicket-keeper in the recently concluded World Cup.

Dhoni's underwhelming strike-rates remained a talking point all through the tournament with many holding him responsible for botched up chases against England in the group stage and New Zealand in the semifinal. Prasad, however, was adamant that had Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja taken India to a win in the semifinal the knocks would have been hailed as best-ever.

"Had we won the (World Cup) semi-final (against New Zealand), especially after the collapse we had at the top of the order, then the knocks that Jadeja and MS played would have been hailed as one of the best knocks ever," Prasad said in an interview with PTI.

"I can clearly say this that till today MS is the best glovemen and finisher in India in the shorter formats. The others are still work in progress. MS was a big strength to this team in the World Cup both as a batsman and keeper, apart from sharing his vast experience with the team and captain while taking on-field decisions."

While Prasad was coy about whether or not the selectors will include Dhoni in the side after the West Indies tour (from which the former Indian captain has taken a break) but admitted that the selection panel was looking at grooming Rishabh Pant as much as possible for future tours.

"I have very clearly told post the selection of the Indian team against West Indies, that we have a plan post World Cup to give as many opportunities as possible to Rishabh and groom him so that he can grow in confidence and perform as per the requirements of the team," Prasad said.

The Prasad-led selection panel has often been criticised, most recently by Sunil Gavaskar for lacking vision but Prasad was quick to respond that had that been the case Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya would never had played Test cricket. He further quipped that Bumrah and Pandya's incredible rise from being T20 players to regulars in the Test arena would be the lasting legacy of the current selection committee.

"If this committee lacked vision, then how has Jasprit Bumrah, who is predominantly considered a white-ball bowler, been eased into Test cricket ?" Prasad retorted.

"If we lacked vision, how on earth did Hardik Pandya, who again was initially thought of being a T20 player, was prepared for all-round duties across formats?"

Prasad also pointed out the examples of how the selection panel had the vision to blood someone like Pant for the longer format of the game and the swift progress of players such as Khaleel Ahmed and Hanuma Vihari.

"And so much for our "lack of vision", Rishabh Pant, whom nobody ever thought that could be cut out for longer formats, has been groomed and inducted into Test squad in such a short span of time. We all saw the results in England and Australia -- both with bat and behind the stumps," Prasad said.

"Now let's come to the feeder line. See how much progress a Mayank (Agarwal) or a (Hanuma) Vihari has made. Look at our fast bowling strength. Khaleel Ahmed and Navdeep Saini are two of the fastest in India right now.

"If this committee lacked vision and blue-print, how are the shadow tours being planned for the senior team through India A? Are these not the results of coordinated efforts by the selection committee along with coaches Ravi Shastri and Rahul Dravid."

Looking forward to the upcoming tours, Prasad said the Indian team looked an experienced unit in the Test scene while for the shorter versions of the game, the selection panel was looking to bring in more youngsters into the setup.

"With regards to our Test team, we have done well in our earlier Test series against Australia in Australia. We are excited and looking forward towards the World Test Championship," he said.

"In shorter formats, we have inducted few youngsters based on their consistent performances at the India A level and we are looking forward to seeing them consolidating their spots in the Team as they will get more number of opportunities from here on."

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